Chandigarh, September 24, 2020: Fourteen former IAS officers of Punjab have appealed to the Central government to take immediate initiative and resolve the present crisis in consultation with state governments and representatives of other stakeholders including agitating farmers.
The following is the statement issued by the former IAS officers:
"The Central Govt. issued three farm ordinances in June 2020. The bills to replace these ordinances have also been passed in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
We earnestly feel that there was no urgency to issue these ordinances when the country was fighting Corona epidemic. It seems Govt. deliberately chose the timing so that the opposition to these measures is minimal due to fear of Corona.
The Govt. must have also considered that law/instructions issued to combat Corona would be helpful in dealing with agitation against these ordinances. In spite of Govt. calculations lakhs of farmers and their supporters are on the roads flouting social distancing norms. This may lead to catastrophic situation.
Agriculture is a State subject (Sr. No. 14 of State List). Trade and Commerce within the State is also a State Subject. (Sr. No. 24 of the State List) The list of essential commodities covered under the “The Essential Commodities Act. 1955” is given in the Schedule of the Act. Agricultural commodities are included in it.
According to Section-2 any commodity can be added are removed from the Schedule by amendment in consultation with State Governments. The new ordinance/bill has virtually taken out agricultural commodities from the purview of the existing Act.
This has not been done by amending section-2 which required consultations with State Governments, but by inserting a new sub-section in section-3. Thus, these bills impinge upon the rights of the States as well their finances.
We have also noted with grave anguish and concern the manner in which two bills were passed in Rajya Sabha by “Voice Vote” when several members were demanding “Division” (Voting). This does not augur well for our democratic functioning.
The Central Govt. is claiming that these bills would be of immense benefit to farmers. On the other hand, farmers’ organizations look at them as anti-farmer measures which would further aggravate their miseries.
Mere reading of the ordinances /bills would reveal that these measures would help the Corporate sector to expand in agriculture. The farmers are agitating against these bills. Most of their concerns and fears are genuine and well founded. We support their demands.
The country is facing extremely grave situation on several fronts -- Corona epidemic; unprecedented economic disruption; all time high unemployment; tension on international borders. Kharif harvesting and Rabi sowing season is fast approaching. Any prolonged farmers, agitation would adversely affect the agriculture factor, the only bright spot in our GDP growth.
In view of the above facts we, a group of retired I.A.S. officers, earnestly appeal to the Central Govt. to take immediate initiative and resolve the present crisis in consultation with State Governments and representatives of other stakeholders including agitating farmers.
Dr. Manmohan Singh, Dr. Harkesh Singh Sidhu, Kulbir Singh Sidhu, Gurnihal Singh Peerzada, Gurdev Singh Sidhu, Surinderjit Singh Sandhu, Sukhjit Singh Bains, Manjit Singh Narang, Prithi Chand, Capt. Narinder Singh, Tejinder Singh Dhaliwal, Sukhjit Singh Bains, Raminder Singh, Ujagar Singh."